Written & Directed by: #CraigMoore
Short Film Review by #ChrisBuick
There is no rulebook on grief, each person handles it in their own unique way. However, it is perhaps a common presumption that most, unwittingly or not, will traverse the same five basic stages; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. But as powerful Irish drama Three Brothers Two from filmmaker Craig Moore shows, grief is not a straight line through each of them, instead it is a deep forest with many turns where it can become very easy to lose your way.
Jack (Earley) sits alone surrounded by rows of empty church pews completely silent and unaware of the world around him, his heavily worn eyes instead fixated on the coffin situated just a few feet in front of him where his younger brother Tommy now lies, having recently lost his life to a drug overdose. It is not until Tony (Adamson), Tommy’s friend and also the brother of Jack’s girlfriend Aine (Devine), appears to his side begging forgiveness that Jack snaps back. With Tony being the one that supplied the drugs in the first place, Jack's reddened eyes become filled with anger and hate as he lashes out threateningly at Tony, who as far as Jack is concerned is the one responsible for Tommy's death. Unable to move past his heartache, Jack’s downwards spiral over the subsequent weeks means that his emotions begin to transform from mere grief into something much darker.
If the intention here was that each character in the piece is only meant to represent a single phase of the grieving process, then Moore doesn’t seem to be giving himself nearly enough credit. Moore has actually demonstrated through some simple and incredibly authentic writing that, as mentioned previously, grief is not a one-way road to the other side. In fact, grief is fluid and those involved can actually just as easily regress as much as progress. Each character seems to be given a certain well of depth and freedom to not only move back and forth throughout, but also actually experience two, three or as many as four stages simultaneously. Again, there is no formula to sorrow, something Moore definitely knows and demonstrates it here.
Grief is never pretty; destructive forces very rarely are. But it must be said that the film often looks stunning, whether it's against the undisputable beauty of grey Irish skies, or trapped beneath darkened tunnels, the film not only manages to look the part but manages to fully accentuate the mood as well. It also helps that Three Brothers Two hosts a cast that can convey Moore’s themes not only where the dialogue shows them, but also make them evident through a host of subtle nuances. Earley as powder keg Jack might be an easy standout being the films centrepiece, but nothing should be taken away from his chameleonic performance of a tortured man trying desperately to move past his pain and more importantly, himself. A constant ticking bomb with no timer, Earley’s eyes show us a great deal more than what Jack might be saying, leaving us on tenterhooks for a detonation that may come at any moment.
Adamson’s Tony is a worthy counterweight, perhaps not given the chance to paint as many colours as Earley but still gives a performance which permits us sympathy in his plight for mercy. Devine’s role unfortunately doesn’t seem to allow for much scope outside of despair and longing for a resolution between the two male leads, but it's an effective turn nonetheless.
Although any big drama might be thin on the ground, Moore’s emotionaland highly effective character driven piece still succeeds in creating something real, honest and importantly captivating.